Hirshberg, Glen 1966–
Hirshberg, Glen 1966–
Born 1966, in Detroit, MI; married; children. Education: Columbia University, B.A.; University of Montana, M.A., M.F.A.
Author, writing teacher, and journalist.
World Fantasy Award nomination, 2001, for short story "Mr. Dark's Carnival" 2002, for short story "Struwwelpeter," 2003, for "Dancing Men," and 2004, for The Two Sams: Ghost Stories; International Horror Guild nomination, 2001, for short story "Mr. Dark's Carnival," award for best medium-length story, 2003, for "Dancing Men," best collection, 2003, for The Two Sams, best novelette, 2007, for "The Muldoon," and best collection, 2007, for American Morons; Publishers Weekly Best Book selection, 2003, for The Two Sams; Bennett Cerf Prize for best fiction, Columbia University; finalist, Bram Stoker Award, Horror Writers Association, 2007, for American Morons and for novelette "Devil's Smile."
The Snowman's Children (novel), Carroll & Graf Publishers (New York, NY), 2002.
The Two Sams: Ghost Stories (short stories), Carroll & Graf Publishers (New York, NY), 2003.
American Morons (short stories), Earthling Publications (Northborough, MA), 2006.
Contributor of short fiction to anthologies including The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, Fourteenth Annual Collection, edited by Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow, St. Martin's Griffin (New York, NY), 2001; The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, Fifteenth Annual Collection, edited by Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow, St. Martin's Griffin (New York, NY), 2002; The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, Volume 14, edited by Stephen Jones, Carroll & Graf Publishers (New York, NY), 2003; Trampoline, edited by Kelly Link, Small Beer Press (Northampton, MA), 2003; The Dark: New Ghost Stories, edited by Ellen Datlow, Tor Books (New York, NY), 2004; and to Web sites such as Scifi.com. Also contributor of articles to various publications, including LAWeekly.
Much of Glen Hirshberg's fiction is considered horror genre writing, and many of his works, particularly his short pieces, are ghost stories. Hirshberg has won awards from the International Horror Guild and has also been applauded by critics for his realistic portrayal of adolescent characters.
In The Snowman's Children, the Detroit landscape of Mattie Rhodes's childhood is haunted by the specter of a serial child killer. By the age of twenty-seven, Mattie is unhappily married, aimless, and dissatisfied. His present situation causes Mattie to remember the days when "The Snowman" prowled the streets, boldly snatching children in daylight attacks. The murders remain unsolved, and Mattie's family moved away after the traumatic killings. Seeking relief from his current dead-end situation, Mattie returns to Detroit to seek out Spencer and Theresa, his two best friends from childhood. Denver Post reviewer Robin Vidimos commented: "Hirshberg spends a fair amount of time—none of it wasted—explaining why this trio has developed such loyalty. The result holds the tension of a thriller combined with an insight into character more often found in literary than in genre fiction."
A Kirkus Reviews critic called The Snowman's Children "a chilling debut," noting that the novel is "haunting and sharply rendered: a thriller that leaves the reader even more disturbed at story's end." Carolyn See, writing in the Washington Post, commented that the "technically perfect, beautifully rendered childhood" of Mattie and his friends "is what makes The Snowman's Children so powerful." Vidimos concluded that Hirshberg's writing "holds the reader's interest from the first page to the last. He's as comfortable with loose ends as he is with life's realities, and in real life there are unsolved mysteries."
Hirshberg's collection of short stories The Two Sams: Ghost Stories is "concerned more with psychology and history than with things that go bump in the night," observed Ray Olson in Booklist. Jackie Cassada, writing in Library Journal, called the book a "literate, thoughtful, and affecting" collection. In the title story, a father continues his parental obligations to his two children, who died years before. In "Mr. Dark's Carnival," a story that resonates with Ray Bradbury's works, a college professor visits a legendary fun house on Halloween and finds the carnival terror becoming real and personal. The prank-pulling punk of "Struwwelpeter" may just be delusional—or there may be something haunting the house that serves as the epicenter of his Halloween sprees. Hirshberg, remarked a Publishers Weekly reviewer, "shows uncommon talent for insinuating the supernatural into scenarios grounded in credible reality and for maintaining ambiguity until the moment of prime emotional impact."
In his second collection of short stories, American Morons, Hirshberg gathers seven short works of fiction that focus on different aspects of Americana and look at them from a slightly darker, seedier angle. Arcades at a seaside boardwalk, a seemingly innocent ice cream truck, and the decommissioning of a lighthouse, all take on sinister tones. Hirshberg's skill lies in playing up ordinary, everyday images, without resorting to magic or monsters to increase the scare factor of his tales. Rick Kleffel, in a review for the Agony Column Web site, summed up Hirshberg's theme: "It is our own mistakes that haunt us and those around us, the bad choices that fester in the shadows." He went on to call the book "a perfect example of the power and range of what can be called either literary fiction or horror fiction, depending on where you find it," as well as "nothing less than the constantly sorry state of the world we must live in, of the lives we must lead, wrought in beautiful prose with a twisted sense of the imagination." In a review for Booklist, Ray Olson commented that "Hirshberg is more concerned with the human heart and soul than with the supernatural." A Publishers Weekly contributor praised Hirshberg's characterizations, and dubbed his stories "some of the most effective and chilling in contemporary weird fiction."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, October 1, 2002, Joanne Wilkinson, review of The Snowman's Children, p. 301; September 15, 2003, Ray Olson, review of The Two Sams: Ghost Stories, p. 218; September 15, 2006, Ray Olson, review of American Morons, p. 34.
Denver Post, December 8, 2002, Robin Vidimos, "Author's Inaugural Effort Inspiring: Characters, Story Replete in Mystery," review of The Snowman's Children, p. EE2.
Fantasy & Science Fiction, March, 2004, Elizabeth Hand, review of The Two Sams, p. 34.
Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2002, review of The Snowman's Children, p. 1336; August 15, 2003, review of The Two Sams, p. 1037.
Library Journal, September 15, 2003, Jackie Cassada, review of The Two Sams, p. 96.
Publishers Weekly, December 9, 2002, review of The Snowman's Children, p. 62; September 15, 2003, review of The Two Sams, p. 49; August 21, 2006, review of American Morons, p. 55.
Washington Post, January 3, 2003, Carolyn See, "Cold Horror," review of The Snowman's Children, p. C3.
Agony Column,http://trashotron.com/agony/ (May 30, 2006), Rick Kleffel, review of American Morons.
Glen Hirshberg Home Page,http://www.glenhirshberg.com (August 6, 2004).